My no 1 choice, Baskin-Robbins -not good enough for a young Chinese girl? Well actually, there are no Baskin-Robbins in Shanghai (yet?).
Yesterday I had coffee with a Chinese male friend and as usual we started talking about dating and love in China (I can't help myself from asking him about the standards over here.. I just find it so interesting/different to where I come from). I asked him where he'd take a girl for a date and he instantly replied:
Now, for those of you who do not know: Häagen-Dazs is probably the most high profile luxury ice cream brand in China. It's mad, I know, as I have munched on much better scoops at both Ben & Jerry's and Baskin-Robbins, but for some reason, Häagen-Dazs has earned a reputation of being the crème de la crème of ice cream here in China (well, price wise I believe it is).
Häagen-Dazs is especilly loved by China’s urban elite and middle classes who turn a casual trip to an ice cream bar into a family event for Sunday afternoons. I have been to a Häagen-Dazs once in Shanghai, and I was actually a bit appalled. When I've visited Häagen-Dazs before in places like Indonesia (I spent a summer on Bali in 2002 and became a Häagen-Dazs regular) it has been a nice, but casual place where u get good ice cream. In China, however, it's like... an upmarket ice cream restaurant?! They have tables with pink chairs and waiters that are passing around expensive-looking menus before taking your order... And the ice cream? Well, except for the traditional scoops, u can choose from actual 'ice cream meals' that cost way more than a regular meal at a Chinese restaurant. We are talking about 100 kuai for a sweets here... what happened to the Chinese 'let's not splurge' attitude?!
During my one (and only) visit I watched parents with their little princess/prince children eating away, painting an image almost identical to the scary commercial photos of 'one happy Häagen-Dazs family.' Well, maybe it's actually considered to be a real 'happy pill' over here, because according to my Chinese friend, Häagen-Dazs isn't only the choice for spoit children and their folks, but it also scores high on a young girls list of 'dream dates.'
-Most young girls have a romantic idea of Häagen-Dazs, my friend explained. And then it's about brand image. Everybody know Häagen-Dazs... they know it is a good brand. Eating there gives you status.
(Wow. I never knew a scoop of ice cream could have so many hidden meanings!?)
When my Chinese friend asked me if a guy had ever taken me to a Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar for a date, I said no with a smirk.
-Oh, how come?
-Well... I guess Ice cream doesn't have such a high status where I come from.
-So where do u go on dates?
-Eh... cafes... restaurants... a bar... parks... hm... basketball games... a guy once took me to the ZOO?!
-The ZOO? It was now his turn to look appalled.
Yup. I guess a ZOO would be on the very bottom of a Häagen-Dazs-loving girl's list of dream dates...